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Gillibrand, Tonko Tour YouthBuild Project: Vow To Keep Funds Flowing


New York US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Congressman Paul Tonko were in Schenectady Monday, calling for continued federal funding of educational and job training programs.

The lawmakers toured a house at 843 Emmett Street that has been under renovation by Schenectady YouthBuild over the past two years. More than 80 high school students worked on the project, turning a run-down building into an energy-efficient showcase.

Senator Gillibrand said she was impressed with the students' work, noting the LEED Gold Certification home is a model of how energy-efficient and sustainable homes can be built affordably in Hamilton Hill.  "Through the program, students learned green job skills and worked closely with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development “Options in Green Program” to learn many of the best practices in constructing a LEED home."

YouthBuild has been around since 1992. Operated by the U.S. Department of Labor, it provides job training and educational programs to low-income youth between the ages of 16 to 24, who have not graduated from high school or received an equivalent degree.  Gillibrand noted it has 17 chapters in New York State.   "Here in Schenectady, 179 students have been served since 2007, with 92 per cent of students receiving their high school diploma or equivalent, and 72 per cent of students gaining employment or enrolling in college."

The YouthBuild program's authorization expired in 2012. After YouthBuild was slated for elimination in the House-passed SKILLS Act last year, Senator Gillibrand and Congressman Tonko successfully pushed back. Now a reauthorization is included in the recently announced bipartisan, bicameral deal, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which is currently before Congress.  "Year after year, we have to fight the same old battle in Washington D.C. about whether or not Congress is going to support a program like YouthBuild," remarked Gillibrand.

Congressman Tonko vowed to urge Congress to reauthorize funding for vital programs that provide job training and education programs for students.  "YouthBuild builds our communities. We need to continue to build YouthBuild, through Washington, through government, making sure that the resources are there."

Nationwide, YouthBuild has served more than 130,000 students in 46 states and has built more than 28 thousand affordable homes.

The Emmett Street property in Schenectady is owned and maintained by Northeast Parent and Child Society and is being rented to a family that has fulfilled eligibility requirements.

“In just the first few months of living in the home, we realized the advantages of living in a healthy, energy efficient and air-tight home,” said Tonia Thomas, the resident. “Even during the especially frigid winter we had this year, we experienced dramatically lower energy bills and increased comfort due to fewer variations in temperature from room to-room. It means a lot to me to know that my home is healthy and that my children are breathing clean air and are not being exposed to mold and pollutants.”

For more information, visit, visit http://www.youthbuild.org.  The Saint-Gobain Corporation Foundation’s partnership with YouthBuild USA also supports green home renovation projects in three other communities where Saint-Gobain has business concentrations, including: Akron, Ohio; Worcester, Mass.; and Philadelphia, Pa. For more information about Saint-Gobain Corporation Foundation’s partnership with YouthBuild USA, visit http://www.saint-gobain-northamerica.com/people/YouthBuild.asp.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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